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Hey boys and girls, the fellows behind the excellent animated feature, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs are back with a very different type of comedy.  Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord hitch their wit and pop culture cred to writer/producer/star Jonah Hill’s outlandish and very funny big screen version of 21 Jump Street.

Dig it!


21 Jump Street

Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord


The Lady Miz Diva:  How did you become attached to this feature version of 21 Jump Street?

Chris Miller:  We just came off of doing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and we said ‘Let’s try to do something kind of the opposite of that movie,’ just to mix it up because we always want to challenge ourselves and do things that people aren’t expecting.  We knew Jonah {Hill} socially through comedy circles and we were big fans of his.  He’d been working on this script with Michael Bacall and we read it and we thought, ‘Wow, that’s a crazy, crazy idea for a movie and so funny. And wouldn’t it be weird if we did a hard “R” action comedy?’  And we thought it would be perfect, but obviously, we’re not the first people you would call.

Phil Lord:  No, it was not an incoming call.  It was us looking at all the material out there and getting pitched a lot of very earnest kids who fight monsters kinds of movies.  We just felt that we didn’t want that to be our career entirely.  So we saw this script and we thought we had a good answer for how to make it even better.

CM:  So, we made this booklet; here’s what we think the tone of the movie should be. Here’s what the look of the movie should be and here are some things we think we can do to make the story even better.  We showed that to Neal Moritz, the producer, and the studio and everybody really liked it.

PL:  But it took seven meetings.  Like, it was a phone call to the junior person and then we had to get in the room and convince everybody.

CM:  Luckily, we had a good relationship with Sony from the last movie and the studio trusted us and we got along with Jonah, and so it all worked out.


LMD:  It’s a big departure from the family-friendly Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

CM:  It is.

PL:  I know!  Our parents were shocked.

CM:  At the same time, we made Cloudy to be something that we would find funny.  Rather than try to do something that targets the kids; we thought we’ll just do stuff that makes us laugh and we won’t say any bad words and it’ll be fine.  This time it was the same thing, except for that we did use bad words.  The only real difference was that it was a good deal raunchier.


LMD:  You guys demonstrated a love of eighties pop culture in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by including Mr. T in your voice cast and the homages to early Nintendo video games.  Were you fans of the original 21 Jump Street series and what things from the show did you feel were important to include in the film?

CM:  We watched the show growing up.  The cute girls in my school watched the show, so I also watched the show, so in case they were talking about it in the hallway, I could be part of the conversation.  That did not ever happen.

PL:  I just remembered that network {Fox} coming on and it had The Simpsons and Married with Children and it felt like it was something for our generation, maybe.  There was In Living Color and things like that and I remember watching that show and thinking ‘This is made for me.’  And I thought it was really cool and edgy, and then when you go back and watch it there’s certain things that don’t…

CM:  That are a little more dated.

PL:  {Laughs} Yeah, that don’t hold up, like the saxophone playing that used to be really cool in the eighties, but isn’t as cool anymore, at least not on television.  If you play the saxophone, that is cool to be a musician, so don’t worry.

CM:  The script was already set up so that it was a continuation of the series, rather than a reimagining of the original.  We really were attracted to the idea that every episode of the show happened and it actually happened, and then now, they’re reopening the unit with new people and we’re not trying to be like, ‘This person’s the new Johnny Depp, and this person’s the new Peter DeLuise.’  But having a nostalgia for the show, even though the tone is different, we really did try to bring in lots of details from the show to keep it true to the show, in a sense.  The names of their cover, the McQuaid brothers, which were recurring undercover names that Peter and Johnny were in probably like ten episodes.  They were the McQuaid brothers and they’d always high-five and go, “McQuaid!”  It was great! {Laughs}  There’s little things like that throughout the movie so that people who were fans of the show will say, ‘Okay, I see, this really does exist in the same universe and they did really give a lot of thought to it.’

PL:  And we didn’t wanna make a parody or try to take the piss out of the show.  This wasn’t about ‘Let’s make fun of 21 Jump Street.’  We have a lot of affection for the show.  This was ‘Let’s grow the universe of 21 Jump Street.’

CM:  We didn’t wanna be like, ‘Oh, let’s do an eighties spoof with shoulder pads and crazy hair.’

PL:  It might be funny for like two minutes.

CM:  But in the reality of the universe, you’re just not going to buy into it.


LMD:  Do you think some of the things left over from the original show might manifest themselves in some cameos by cast members from the original series?

CM:  If that were possible, that would be really neat.

PL:  Could be possible.  That’s a good idea.  Let’s go back and shoot that in the next two weeks.


LMD:  Would you think that one of those possible, maybe, could-be cameos might have been cathartic for one of those actors, who shall remain nameless, but has gone on record as saying they hated their time on 21 Jump Street?

PL:  Everyone I’ve talked to from the original show has a real nostalgia and affection for that time.

CM:  Whether or not they hated it while doing it.

PL:  Yeah, I feel like everyone has an appreciation for what that was and how it was iconic.  We were talking about {21 Jump Street creator} Stephen Cannell and I think everybody universally thought he was a great person and they respected him, and you get the sense that the folks who worked on that show care about one another and appreciate that time for what it brought to their lives in terms of their friends and stuff.

CM:  We wanted to put in as many surprises for the audience as possible, and I think they will be pleasantly surprised.


LMD:  Well, before we end, I have to know about Lego the Movie.

PL:  Are you an AFoL? An Adult Fan of Lego?

CM:  It’s a pretty crazy movie.  We wrote it and we’re directing it with Chris McKay, who did Robot Chicken, a very talented guy.  We’re in production on it already and it’s pretty nuts.  It’s mostly animation with a little bit of live action in it.  It’s sort of like if you’ve ever seen any of those Brickfilms online; where people in their basements move the little yellow guys around Lego places.  It’s kind of like that, but with a much bigger budget and better equipment. {Laughs}


~ The Lady Miz Diva

March 4th, 2012


Click here to read our Movie Review of 21 Jump Street.




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Exclusive photos by L.M.D.

Stills courtesy of Sony Pictures



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